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Alfred Russel Wallace Got There Before Metamorphosis

Evolution News

Our friend and colleague Michael Flannery notes a fascinating letter written by evolutionary theory’s co-discoverer that anticipates the intelligent-design argument in Metamorphosis.

Alfred Russel Wallace was writing to Mrs. Fisher, who prior to her marriage had served as Charles Lyell’s secretary under her maiden name of Arabella Buckley. The letter is dated on March 6, 1909. Excerpt:

Another point I am becoming more and more impressed with is, a teleology of fundamental laws and forces rendering development of the infinity of life — forms possible (and certain) in place of the old telelology applied to the production of each species. Such are the case of feathers reproduced annually, which I gave at the end of a lecture, and the still more marvelous fact of the caterpillar, often in two or three weeks of chrysalis life, having its whole internal, muscular, nervous, locomotive and alimentary organs decomposed and recomposed into a totally different being — an absolute miracle if ever there is one, quite as wonderful as would be the production of a complex marine organism out of a mass of protoplasm. Yet because there has been continuity, the difficulty is slurred over or thought to be explained!
Yours very truly,
Alfred R. Wallace

From James Marchant, Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscences (1916),�p. 337.

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